COVID is a virus – and a particularly nasty one. Like other viruses, some unlucky people don’t recover fully. Instead they develop Post Viral Syndrome – whether the original bug was COVID, Epstein-Barr or other viral infections.
So many people in so many places have had COVID – sometimes multiple times – that LONG COVID is quickly becoming a recognised disease in it’s own right.
So here’s an update on we know about the disease – following on from my earlier post Prepare to manage LONG COVID
Long COVID is being referred to as the next ‘pandemic’ – one that will have an ongoing global impact over the next 10 years. Estimates are that 95% of people with COVID will recover well with 5-10% affected with long term health issues.
Considering the global population with COVID that’s still a lot of people suffering and unable to fully express their true potential on the planet. And it’s not just those you would “expect” (old people and those managing chronic illness) – but young, well people – particularly women.
What is LONG COVID and how do you identify it?
Definitions are still a work in progress, however many authorities suggest that there are a whole range of ongoing or recurring symptoms – even ‘new’ symptoms – that remain with victims 8 weeks or 3 months or 6 months after a COVID infection.
Some of the more common symptoms:
- ongoing fatigue
- ongoing brain fog, poor memory ( a recent study of one million post COVID people after 400 days showed ‘dementia-like’ loss of brain function)
- recurrence of latent (sleeping) infections like herpes, EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) associated with glandular fever and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- gut issues like persistent diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting (COVID reduces healthy gut bacteria)
- respiratory issues like ‘oxygen hunger’ and pneumonias – though less common with the current Omicron variant than the original Delta variant.
- arthritic pains, migrating from joint to joint (often if you have a family or self history of arthritic inflammation)
Plus there are some long term impacts you would NOT expect if you see COVID as only something like “a particularly nasty flu”. And they’re impacts that are across the population – not just for the elderly and at-risk groups:
- people in their 40s are reporting POTS – Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome – with weakness, dizziness with pulse dramatically increasing from sitting (about 60) to standing (about 130 or more).
- menstrual problems
- an increased risk of major clotting events, causing cardiac issues like arrhythmias (COVID can activate the blood clotting system)
- increased micro clotting – which can affect brain function, cause kidney disease and impact eye health
- increased depression and generally reduced ‘quality of life’ (MISERY)
So if (or perhaps when?) you get COVID – make sure you rest, rest, rest, rest rest. Get the support you need to make a full recovery – because if you “soldier on” you’re putting your long term wellbeing at risk. It’s a great idea after you get COVID that you get a thorough check up with your GP and Naturopath to ensure overall recovery and pick up on issues early.
AND be watchful for the full spectrum of harms, so if you are one of the unlucky 5-10%, you can get help early. Because you can avoid a lot of disruption and misery if you’re prepared and act early.
Why does COVID do so MUCH harm?
Inflammation can effect us anywhere in our body. The SARS-COV-2 virus triggers massive inflammation across multiple body systems. It doesn’t just attack the respiratory system – but can impact a range of systems – with one key recognised target including your gut – which is where much of your immune system processing happens.
How specifically long COVID impacts your body will depend on things like your genes, the foods you eat, your sleep quality, your levels of exercise and movement, your attitude and your mental well-being.
Long COVID is classed as a ‘Chronic’ disease – as such, Naturopathic care is an appropriate choice to support your journey in this. Naturopaths are well experienced to support all body/mind systems and Long COVID is no exception.
Naturopaths experienced in complementary medicine have been helping people with post-viral syndrome for decades, when the first-level approaches of General Practitioners are insufficient.
What sort of help can I give long COVID patients?
Like your GP, an experienced well qualified Naturopath can call on a wide range of expertise. I am well placed to refer you on to other Professionals to assess for underlying conditions like heart issues, heart failure, kidney failure, gut inflammation, chronic viral infections etc.
In some cases, these conditions may have been present but undetected – until COVID triggered their symptoms. COVID itself can initiate new illnesses too.
I treat you as a whole person
My Naturopathic approach is wholistic in essence. Your mind and body are interconnected ‘systems within systems’. Improving the function of one part of your system will have a domino effect elsewhere.
For instance, if your bowel is constipated (Gut system) then your immune system’s surveillance cells (70% reside in the gut) will be overloaded with toxins. That means they are not able to carry out their day to day automatic duties with efficiency.
As a Naturopath, I also consider your individual resources and your capability to respond to changes in food, exercise, sleep hygeine, etc. I meet you ‘where you are at.’
Gentle support with lifestyle and supplements can be life changing as it works with the flow of the internal body’s desire for wellness and balance (homoeostasis).
Some key problems caused by long COVID need EARLY intervention – particularly problems such as MICRO CLOTS and MITOCHONDRIAL (energy bank) inpacts. Even simple things like quality sleep can make a big difference – because good sleep enables our self cleansing brain cell helpers (called glial cells) to recover and repair. Well balanced nutrition and optimising your gut function are other strategies. They all assist in recovery, slowly and surely – and MULTIPLY each others effects over time.
As a Naturopath, I can offer individualised pathways to alleviate the sense of ‘hopelessness’ that can happen with Long COVID. Modern Medicine is limited and needs to learn to lean into offerings of traditional approaches to healing including Naturopathic understandings.
Less than 10% of our western society practises the 5 Keys to Health: reduce addictions, quality food, sleep, exercise and happiness. These actions have been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk by 83% and cancers by 70%. What pill can do this??
For suggestions on the general supplements to help with COVID, (with guidance for the individual in mind): Be like a scout – be prepared for COVID!